Florida games will be played

San Francisco Chronicle - - PAGE 2 - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Amid the mis­ery in Florida caused by Hur­ri­cane Irma, the state still has places to play.

The Jack­sonville Jaguars were the lat­est to an­nounce they will play at home this week­end.

Team pres­i­dent Mark Lamp­ing and Jack­sonville Mayor Lenny Curry de­liv­ered the news at a lo­cal fire sta­tion Tues­day, just hours af­ter the team re­turned home fol­low­ing an ex­tended stay in Hous­ton be­cause of Irma.

“It’s so im­por­tant on so many dif­fer­ent lev­els that we show the world that Jack­sonville is open for busi­ness,” Lamp­ing said.

The Jaguars spent three nights in Hous­ton be­cause of the hur­ri­cane.

Lamp­ing said EverBank Field in Jack­sonville passed its fi­nal NFL in­spec­tion Tues­day to gain clear­ance to host a game. Sta­di­ums in Tampa Bay and Mi­ami also were de­clared safe af­ter struc­tural en­gi­neers found no dam­age re­lated to Irma.

The Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers will host the Chicago Bears as sched­uled Sun­day at Ray­mond James Sta­dium. It will serve as the Bucs’ sea­son opener.

“Host­ing the game is im­por­tant to us, as Tampa Bay has been through a lot over the past few days,” Buc­ca­neers CEO Brian Ford said. The Bucs’ game last Sun­day at Mi­ami was post­poned un­til Nov. 19 be­cause of the storm.

In col­lege foot­ball, No. 22 South Florida was to re­sume prac­tice Tues­day and will host to Illi­nois on Fri­day, also at Ray­mond James. South Florida ath­letic di­rec­tor Mark Har­lan said the Bulls de­ter­mined their game could be safely played as sched­uled with­out hurt­ing re­cov­ery ef­forts.

No. 23 Ten­nessee and 24thranked Florida will play as sched­uled Satur­day in Gainesville. Florida Field sus­tained only mi­nor storm dam­age to sig­nage.

Florida (0-1) can­celed its home opener last week against North­ern Colorado be­cause of the hur­ri­cane.

Florida At­lantic tar­geted a Wed­nes­day re­turn to its cam­pus in Boca Ra­ton and hopes to play its sched­uled home game Satur­day against Bethune-Cook­man.

Hard Rock Sta­dium in Mi­ami Gar­dens was de­ter­mined to be safe for the Hur­ri­canes, who are sched­uled to play the next game there Sept. 23 against Toledo, and for the Dol­phins.

“Af­ter thor­ough in­spec­tion by en­gi­neers, it has been deemed that Hard Rock Sta­dium ex­pe­ri­enced no struc­tural dam­age from Irma,” Dol­phins pres­i­dent Tom Garfinkel tweeted. “We are good to go with CanesFoot­ball on the 23rd!”

The Dol­phins’ first game at the sta­dium will be Oct. 8. Their sea­son opener sched­uled at home this past Sun­day was post­poned un­til Novem­ber be­cause of the storm.

En­gi­neers in­spected the sta­dium canopy that was part of a re­cent $500 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion and found no is­sues, de­spite fears of a tor­nado in the area spawned by Irma.

The Dol­phins’ prac­tice com­plex has also been de­clared safe and will be avail­able when the team re­turns from this week’s stay in Cal­i­for­nia for Sun­day’s game against the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers, Garfinkel said.

Back in Jack­sonville, the Jaguars and owner Shad Khan do­nated $1 mil­lion to Florida’s First Coast Re­lief Fund.

The team also is giv­ing away 5,000 tick­ets to the opener to first re­spon­ders and lo­cal res­i­dents af­fected by Irma.

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